James Comey Can’t Recall – WSJ

James Comey, former director of the FBI, testifies via videoconference during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Sept. 30.



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Stefani Reynolds – Pool Via Cnp/Zuma Press

The origins of the 2016 FBI investigation into the Trump presidential campaign are slowly unspooling, and the latest revelation is a stunner. The CIA warned the FBI that the Hillary Clinton campaign might be ginning up accusations of Trump collusion with Russia, but James Comey’s bureau ignored it.

That’s the story from CIA documents declassified and released Tuesday by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe. They include a Sept. 7, 2016 CIA memo to Mr. Comey for “background, investigative action, or lead purposes.” The memo includes intelligence information, including “An exchange [redacted] discussing US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.”

Mr. Ratcliffe told Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham last week that the U.S. “does not know the accuracy of this allegation” since it was based on “insight into Russian intelligence analysis.” But the accuracy is secondary to the fact that the FBI ignored the CIA referral.

Only a month earlier the FBI had launched an unprecedented counterintelligence investigation into a presidential campaign on the slimmest evidence. A CIA warning that a rival campaign might be fomenting the collusion claims should have stopped the probe. Recall that the FBI was also warned around that time that the chief promoter of collusion claims, Christopher Steele, was on the Clinton payroll.

There is no evidence the FBI heeded the warning, and Mr. Comey told the Senate last week he didn’t recall the CIA memo. This is hard to credit given that the memo claims it was provided in response to an “FBI verbal request.” It’s even harder to credit from a director who at the time was managing the Clinton email investigation and exoneration.

A Clinton spokesman said the allegations are “baseless,” and Democrats call it “disinformation.” Yet the documents contain handwritten notes showing the allegation was serious enough that then CIA Director John Brennan briefed President Obama. The notes say U.S. intelligence had heard that Mrs. Clinton in late July 2016 approved “a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”

The CIA memo to the FBI also explains that its information came from the “CROSSFIRE HURRICANE fusion cell.” Mr. Brennan has referred before to this cell as a group of officials from the CIA, National Security Agency and FBI who were investigating Russian interference. Yet the U.S. restricts CIA involvement in domestic politics. Congressional investigators need to ask if the agency helped the FBI collect information on U.S. citizens.

The new disclosures show an FBI determined to investigate the Trump campaign no matter the number of red flags. The bureau plowed ahead despite a U.S. intelligence alert of potential Clinton-campaign meddling; despite warnings from foreign intelligence and domestic actors about Mr. Steele’s credibility; and despite knowing the FBI had previously investigated the main source for the dossier as a suspected Russian agent. This is either incompetence or willful bias.

No matter who wins on Nov. 3 this year, Americans need to know the full story of how the last election was poisoned by the Russia collusion dirty trick. Please keep the documents coming for the public to see, and the parties testifying under oath.

Potomac Watch: The Comey hearing was a reminder that Americans will be voting this election on more than candidate personalities. They’ll be deciding if they want a return to that swamp. Ken Cedeno – Pool via CNP/Zuma Press

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Appeared in the October 8, 2020, print edition.

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